Cynthia Phillips, Ph.D., Guest Author
Purpose of this Paper
- Describe the nature of conflict in teams
- Define types of conflict and describe how each manifests in a team
- Identify reasons why team members struggle with conflict
- Describe how a team leader can manage conflict within the team
- Summarize my key learning, with recommendation for an intervention that may work in a group conflict situation
It is commonplace for organizations today to work in teams. Whether they be leader-driven teams or self-directed teams; the hope is that productivity, creativity, and results will be greater in a team environment. While this is a proven approach, any time you bring together people from differing backgrounds and experiences, it is inevitable that conflict will occur.
Not too long ago I was having dinner with a client in the midst of a project that was going well. At some point my client looked up at me and said, “I’m glad you’re not one of those OD people.” After recovering from my surprise, we had a good discussion about what OD is and isn’t. Here is a summary of that discussion.
Organization development is the most powerful technology we have for managing change in human systems. Yet, that focus on human systems, which is the heart of OD’s power, is also its problem. OD is misunderstood and misrepresented most often because Westerns in general to not see or understand human systems.
A system is anything with a variety of interconnected components that are dependent on each other to achieve the purpose of the system. The system, likewise, is dependent on the functioning of each component.